Crop Biotech Update

Improving Sorghum's Yield

February 11, 2015

Sorghum is one of the cash crops planted in United States valued for its grains. Sorghum grains can be a source of food, feed, ethanol, and construction and packaging materials. In addition to this, sorghum is a drought tolerant crop and can be grown under poor soil condition, low fertilizer and in a wide range of temperature and altitudes. These traits make it a good alternative crop for farmers. Researchers from US Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) led a research study on sorghum to further improve its yield and performance.

In another study done by ARS researchers in Texas they have developed a mutant sorghum plant that has the ability to produce 30 to 40 percent more seeds. This was done by looking closely at the spikelet, a cluster of florets found in the panicle, that can either be fertile (sessile) and infertile (pedicellate). By inducing mutation done through radiation or chemical agent, ethyl methane sulfonate, an increase in size and volume of sorghum panicle was observed. In addition, the spikelets of the mutant sorghum became flowers, increasing the ability to produce more mature seeds. The mutant sorghum developed can be crossed with other sorghum lines to enhance grain yield through breeding.

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